A 15-year-old boy is responsible for at least three murders in the Alabama area in recent weeks, and he may have been behind a fourth homicide, the Birmingham Police Department said Nov. 18.
Cops haven't released the suspect's name or identifying details because they say he may qualify for youthful offender status, AL.com reports. The decision to prosecute underage suspects as children or adults usually happens at the court level, and judges have not made that decision yet.
The young killer allegedly gunned down Kenneth Davidson, 34, Shundria Peoples, 26, and 22-year-old rapper Tramone Mitchell, who goes by the name "Lil Mone." Investigators are keeping a tight lid on details surrounding the fourth homicide as they look at possible connections with the 15-year-old shooter.
"It is a sad day when a 15-year-old commits this level of violence at such a young age,'' Birmingham police spokesman Lt. Sean Edwards told AL.com. "He has definitely distinguished himself as a killer."
The bodies of Davidson and Peoples were found on the morning of Oct. 23 in the front seats of a Ford Taurus that was idling in Birmingham's Woodward Park. The car was still running when cops arrived, and both victims were pronounced dead at the scene with multiple gunshot wounds to their chests.
The couple was not married, and police believe they were ambushed, WBRC Fox TV reported.
On Nov. 14, police found Mitchell in the front seat of a BMW, with gunshot wounds to his face and shoulder, AL.com notes. Another man who had been in the car with Mitchell was shot in the groin and brought to a local hospital. He survived.
The survivor told detectives that two men had called Mitchell about buying marijuana, according to Edwards. When Mitchell and the survivor showed up to the agreed-upon spot for the drug deal, they were shot. In that shooting, the suspect was accompanied by another person. Edwards did not say if police had located or charged the accomplice.
Edwards credited witnesses for helping police develop strong leads that led to the capture of the 15-year-old, calling them "bold and courageous" for speaking to detectives, according to AL.com. Hesitant witnesses are reportedly a consistent problem for police in urban areas, where witnesses fear retaliation if they provide information to authorities.
The 15-year-old is currently facing charges in family court, not criminal court. If family court judges determine that the boy should be tried as an adult, police will charge the teen with capital murder, according to Edwards.
"A 15-year-old committing this level of violence is a sad, sad thing,'' Edwards said. "This 15-year-old actually took these adults' lives as if he was swatting a mosquito. That's a problem."